Growing Raspberries In Containers: The Complete Guide

Growing Raspberries In Containers: The Complete Guide

Raspberries love full sun, nutrient dense soil, and are avid spreaders. All of these factors also make them a perfect candidate for container gardening! Growing raspberries in containers is a fun and easy way to cultivate these fruitful plants. We’ll walk you through our process for growing raspberries in pots, and give you a few tips for a successful harvest!

(Featured Image: Red Raspberries by Malcom Manners)

Getting Started On Your Container Raspberries

Growing raspberries in containers is a great option if you have limited space or want more control over the growing conditions. You’ll need to do a few things to get started:

  • Select the right container: Choose a larger container with a minimum size of 18 inches in diameter and at least 12 inches deep. The container should have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
  • Choose the raspberry variety: Select a raspberry variety that is suitable for container cultivation. Some popular container-friendly, compact varieties include “Heritage,” “Raspberry Shortcake,” and “Fall Gold.”
  • Choose a quality root stock: Start with a bare-root raspberry plant, these are dormant plants that are easier to start in containers than active plants. Bare root plants are also hardier when it comes to planting before the first frost.
  • Prepare the soil mix: Use a well-draining potting mix that is rich in organic matter. A recommended mix is equal parts of potting soil, compost, and perlite or vermiculite for improved drainage. Red raspberries are acid-loving plants, so peat moss is a great addition to any container potting mix.

How To Plant Raspberries In Containers

  1. Fill the container with the prepared soil mix, leaving about 2 inches of space below the rim.
  2. Dig a hole in the center of the container, deep enough to accommodate the root ball of the raspberry plant.
  3. Place the raspberry plant in the hole, ensuring that the crown (where the roots meet the stem) is level with or slightly above the soil surface.
  4. Try to spread the roots of the plant out as much as you can, do not keep them tightly packed in a root ball
  5. Backfill the hole with soil and gently firm it around the plant.

Tips For Growing Raspberries In Containers

  • Provide support: Raspberries are trailing plants that benefit from support. Install a trellis or stakes in the container to provide support for the canes as they grow and protect them from wind damage. Tie the canes to the support structure using soft plant ties or twine.
  • Watering and drainage: Raspberries require consistent moisture, but they dislike waterlogged conditions. Water the container thoroughly whenever the top inch of soil feels dry. Ensure that excess water drains freely from the container.
  • Sunlight requirements: Place the container in a sunny location where the raspberry plants receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Raspberries thrive in full sun but can handle afternoon shade.
  • Fertilization: Fertilize the raspberries regularly to ensure healthy growth and fruit production. Use a balanced, slow-release organic fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer formulated for fruit-bearing plants. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for application rates and frequency.
Yellow raspberries on a plant, one of three colors of raspberries.

Yellow Raspberries by O. Studholme

Do Raspberry Plants Need To Be Pruned?

Regular pruning is essential for raspberry plants, especially when growing them in a container. Pruning removes dead or damaged canes and encourages more new growth the following season. A well pruned raspberry plant will also grow stronger, more vigorous canes in the years to come.

To prune a raspberry bush, cut back all dead canes that have finished fruiting down to about 1″ above the level of the soil. Remove any damaged or weak canes completely. Always prune with a pair of sharp, clean shears to prevent infection.

Protect Your Raspberry Plants From Pests & Diseases

Raspberry plants can be affected by several common pests and diseasesTo manage pests and diseases on raspberry plants, it’s important to practice good gardening hygiene, such as regular inspection, proper sanitation, and prompt removal of affected plant material. Additionally, consider using organic pest control methods, such as introducing beneficial insects, applying insecticidal soaps or oils, or using biological control agents. Fungicides may be necessary for some fungal diseases, but be sure to follow the instructions and guidelines for their safe and effective use.

Raspberry Pests

  • Aphids: These small insects feed on the sap of raspberry plants and can cause stunted growth, curled leaves, and distorted fruit.
  • Spider Mites: Spider mites are tiny pests that feed on the undersides of leaves, causing yellowing, stippling, and webbing. They can weaken the plants and reduce yield.
  • Raspberry Fruitworm: The larvae of raspberry fruitworm beetles feed on the fruit, causing damage and reducing fruit quality.
  • Raspberry Sawfly: The larvae of sawflies chew on raspberry leaves, causing defoliation and weakening the plants.
  • Japanese Beetles: These beetles feed on raspberry foliage, causing skeletonization of the leaves. Severe infestations can defoliate the plants.

Raspberry Diseases

  • Raspberry Leaf Spot: This fungal disease causes purple or brown spots on the leaves, leading to defoliation if left untreated.
  • Raspberry Cane Blight: Cane blight is caused by a fungus that infects and kills the canes. Infected canes exhibit wilting, darkened bark, and cankers.
  • Phytophthora Root Rot: This soilborne pathogen can cause root rot, resulting in wilting, stunted growth, and plant decline. It is more common in poorly drained soils.
  • Botrytis Fruit Rot: Also known as gray mold, this fungal disease affects ripe and overripe fruit, causing them to become soft, fuzzy, and rotting.
  • Raspberry Mosaic Virus: This viral disease causes mottling, yellowing, and deformation of leaves. It can reduce plant vigor and fruit quality.
  • Crown Gall: Crown gall is caused by a bacterium that creates tumor-like growths on the raspberry plant’s crown or roots. Infected plants may show stunted growth and reduced productivity.
Black raspberries grown in a container garden.

Michigan Black Raspberry by Frankieleon

How Long Does It Take For Raspberries To Grow?

The time it takes for raspberries to grow and reach maturity depends on the variety and growing conditions. Here are some general timelines to give you an idea:

  • Establishment Phase: After planting raspberry plants, they typically go through an establishment phase in the first year. During this time, the plants focus on establishing a strong root system and developing healthy canes rather than producing a significant harvest. It’s important to provide proper care and maintenance during this phase.
  • Second Year: In the second year, raspberry plants usually start to bear fruit. While the yield may not be abundant, you can expect some berries to develop on second-year canes. The exact timing can vary based on the variety, but typically raspberries start fruiting in early to mid-summer.
  • Mature Production: Raspberry plants reach their peak fruit production in subsequent years, typically from the third year onward. By this time, the plants have established a robust root system and a healthy network of canes. Depending on the variety and growing conditions, you can expect a higher yield of raspberries during the peak production years.

It’s important to note that these timelines are approximate, and there can be variations based on factors such as the specific raspberry variety, climate, growing conditions, and care provided. Some varieties may have an earlier or later fruiting season, and the length of the fruiting period can also vary.

Proper care and maintenance, including regular pruning, fertilization, and pest control, can help ensure healthy plant growth and optimal fruit production. By providing the necessary care and creating favorable growing conditions, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of raspberries from your plants for several years.

How To Overwinter Raspberries In Containers

Overwintering raspberries in containers can help protect them from harsh winter conditions and ensure their survival for the following growing season. Here are the steps to overwinter raspberries in containers:

  1. Prune the canes: In late fall or early winter, after the plants have gone dormant, prune the raspberry canes in the container. Cut back the canes to a height of about 6 inches above the soil level. This helps reduce wind damage and prevents the canes from becoming too long and vulnerable during winter.
  2. Insulate the container: To protect the roots from freezing temperatures, you can insulate the container for winter protection. One option is to move the container to a sheltered location, such as a garage or unheated shed, where temperatures are more moderate. Alternatively, you can wrap the container with insulating materials like burlap or bubble wrap to provide additional protection against extreme cold.
  3. Watering: During winter, reduce the frequency of watering since the plants are dormant and require less moisture. However, ensure the soil doesn’t completely dry out. Water the container lightly whenever the top inch of soil feels dry. If you live in a region that gets snow, allow the snow to accumulate on top of the container. This will water the soil as it melts.
  4. Mulch: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the base of the raspberry plants in the container. This helps insulate the roots and retain moisture. Mulch also provides protection against temperature fluctuations and helps suppress weed growth.
  5. Monitor for pests and diseases: While the plants are dormant, it’s a good time to inspect for any signs of pests or diseases. Remove any debris or fallen leaves from the container during the plant’s dormant season to minimize the risk of pest or disease issues.
  6. Monitor moisture levels: Check the moisture level in the container periodically. Water lightly if the soil feels too dry or if there are prolonged dry spells during winter. Avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture combined with cold temperatures can lead to root rot. Make sure your container has adequate drainage year round.
  7. Spring care: As temperatures start to warm up in spring, monitor the container for signs of new growth. Once new canes emerge, gradually increase watering and resume regular care and maintenance for the growing season.

Add Raspberries To Your Container Garden Today

Raspberries can be a very container-friendly plant that make great additions if you’re gardening in a small space. Starting with a large pot and well-drained soil will give you the best results when planting raspberries in a container. Make sure you start with a bare-root cane and only plant a single plant in each pot. This will ensure you have fresh raspberries in the years to come.

If you’re looking for more plants to add to your container garden, consider planting blueberry plants in larger containers! Some varieties of blueberries are specifically suited to be planted in large pots. Read our full tutorial on growing blueberries in containers here!